An Arkansas man who intentionally contracted the HIV virus to infect others was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Thursday. Stephen Koch, 25, pleaded guilty on Monday to intentionally exposing another man to the HIV virus.
According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Koch was initially arrested on drug charges. But an anonymous tip led police in a different direction.
Investigators seized Koch’s computer and found child pornography on his hard drive. A forensic search of the computer turned up text and chat messages that revealed Koch was actively searching for HIV-positive men to infect him with the virus through sexual contact.
Other communications revealed Koch was attempting to set up double dates to infect others with the virus.
The term for this behavior is “Bugchasing” or “Bug chasers.”
“Just so I can get my brain around this, did I understand the state correctly,” Judge Robin Green asked the prosecutor in open court. “Mr. Koch intentionally contracted the HIV virus so he could then infect others?”
Koch admitted that his behavior was “self-destructive.” If he completes his 50-year sentence, he will be required to register as a sex offender.
Koch would have received a slap on the wrist if his case was tried in a California court. A California law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally infect others with the HIV virus.
The California law also reduces knowingly donating HIV-infected blood from a felony to a misdemeanor.